Benedictine Service Award 

Janene Jensen Riedeman ’89 

Janene Jensen Riedeman
Janene Jensen Riedeman

“Volunteers are such a community of their own. Like a community within a community,” says Janene Jensen Riedeman ’89, director of volunteer services at St. Cloud Hospital and this year’s Benedictine Service Award winner. “They have such an impact, because they’re all over the building at St. Cloud Hospital. And they are proactively helping people.  

“You know, you can just see the look on someone’s face if they’re lost. And you know people are probably under stress. They could be scared. They could be dealing with a very difficult situation. And to have someone who’s going to take one of your worries away – to walk you where you need to go, so you don’t need to figure it out on your own. And you don’t need to get lost – that’s meaningful. And if you’re in a hurry to get to your patient, they’ll help with that … and they’ll chat with you and put you at ease. It’s very impactful. Very much appreciated by our staff, too. I think we really have a big impact on people’s experience with CentraCare Health System.” 

That big impact that Janene has been instrumental in strengthening over the last 26 years at St. Cloud Hospital is built on hospitality. It’s a Benedictine value the Sisters of Saint Benedict infused into the hospital from its origins in 1886. It’s a Benedictine value those same sisters made sure Janene discovered as a student at Saint Ben’s. And it’s a value that Janene has nurtured her whole life. “I can’t imagine a time when service wasn’t part of my life,” she says. “From the youngest age I can remember, my family would go sing Christmas carols at the nursing home, or we would go plant flowers in the community, or we were doing things through our church – just always helping others.” 

A great example of that Benedictine-style hospitality is the 28-room Gorecki Guest House – one of the accomplishments Janene is most proud of in her career. The house offers comfortable accommodations for family members, directly across the street from the hospital. “The guest house is personally satisfying for me,” she explains, “because, growing up, I’d been that family member sleeping in a hallway of a hospital because we had nowhere else to rest and we couldn’t leave because the situation was critical.” 

Philanthropic partners Dorothy and Ben Gorecki saw the same importance. “Previously we had a small, five-bedroom guest house near the hospital,” recalls Janene. “And Dorothy stayed at that little house when Ben was receiving care.” 

The Gorecki’s gift launched Janene and CentraCare into a comprehensive project. “I partner with so many great people,” she says. 

That included the foundation who helped raise the money, the architects, the neighborhood, the City Council and more. “When it came to the house itself,” she says, “we were making design decisions between me (Fun fact: Janene’s original major at Saint Ben’s was interior design, before the program was discontinued and she moved to English!) the house coordinator and Dorothy, where she wanted input. It was a rewarding process – creating a home-like atmosphere for our guests.” 

Recognizing Janene with the Benedictine Service Award is not just a statement on Janene’s personal passion for service, it’s a testament to her ability to inspire, focus and direct that passion in others. When she began at the hospital in 1998, she directed a small staff and a contingent of 150-200 volunteers. Before the COVID pandemic, that had grown to 1,200 volunteers. 

Today, with around 700 volunteers, Janene and her staff are building back and acknowledging new realities as they welcome new voices and new friends in search of their chance to serve.